The 2012 St. Louis Cardinals appeared to be powered by the exact same power source that drove the 2011 club to an improbable championship. All they needed was one more win in the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants, and they would find themselves back in the World Series with a chance to defend their title.
But it was not to be. St. Louis' power source finally ran out of juice in Game 5 of the series. Once it did, all the Giants had to do was mop up.
The 2012 Cardinals may not have been able to match the accomplishments of the 2011 club, but the bright side is that this year's club is not in the same boat in terms of what must be done during the offseason.
General manager John Mozeliak doesn't have to worry about replacing a legendary manager or re-signing a legendary slugger, which means he may actually get to rest this winter.
Mozeliak's list of priorities for this offseason is actually quite short. The Cardinals don't need to transition into a new era. They just need to do what they can to make sure the team they have doesn't meet with the same end as the 2012 club at the end of it all in 2013.
Here's a look at the Cardinals' offseason checklist.
Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.